An unusual case of rhabdomyosarcoma presenting as orbital apex syndrome

Daniel J. Machleder, Rudrani Banik, Rhonda B. Rosenberg, Sanjay R. Parikh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A 12-year-old female presented with symptoms and signs of orbital apex syndrome (OAS), secondary to stage IV alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) originating in the sphenoid and ethmoid sinuses. To present a case of alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, unusual in its presentation as orbital apex syndrome and also its origin from the sphenoid and ethmoid sinuses. Observational case report. Ophthalmologic findings, neuroimaging, medical and surgical intervention, histopathologic analysis, and clinical course are described. A 12-year-old female presented with progressive visual loss in her left eye, difficulty with eye movements, and mild headache. Her examination was consistent with orbital apex syndrome. Imaging with contrast revealed a mass originating in the left sphenoid and ethmoid sinuses invading the left optic canal. Emergent biopsy was interpreted as alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma; subsequent metastatic work-up revealed bone marrow metastases. The patient was diagnosed with stage IV alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma and immediately started on combination orbital radiation therapy (RT) and systemic chemotherapy. She experienced gradual improvement of ocular motility, though her optic neuropathy persisted. Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma of paranasal origin, specifically from the sphenoid and ethmoid sinuses, should be included in the differential diagnosis for orbital apex syndrome in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-254
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma
  • Orbital apex syndrome
  • Paranasal sinus


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